THE RAKE AND REVOLUTION BOUTIQUES At Patina Maldives
In partnership with Pontiac Land Group, The Rake and Revolution usher in a new era of luxury resort retail.
This summer and for the rest of the year, we are going to want to remake our vital bonds with this planet. We’ve lived through an era of seismic change in which we’ve been isolated, alienated, disconnected and alone. But now, with the increasing number of vaccines that have been dispensed, and international travel looking once again like a reality, it will not be long before we are able to reunite with the people we love and the friends we cherish. Of the various destinations amenable to this ebullient celebration of kinship, our favourite is the Patina resort in the Maldives, situated in the Fari Islands on an atoll 45 minutes away by boat from the country’s capital, Malé. This is the first of a four-island ecosystem — created by the extraordinary Singaporean real estate developers Pontiac Land Group — that will also include the Ritz-Carlton and Capella hotels. Each hotel will be situated on its own island, with complimentary boat transfers in between. Patina Maldives, which opened on May 18 this year, comprises 90 villas and 20 studios, and is located on the largest of these islands, which are also home to award-winning restaurants, a world-class dive and recreational centre, and The Rake’s new men’s and women’s boutiques, each housing a Revolution Watch and Jewellery Bar. Jean-Claude Biver, the watch industry legend and a senior adviser to Revolution and The Rake, says of the new concept: “This is the future of travel retail, where couples and families can come to a glorious destination like the Maldives, but when they visit the hotel shop, they realise that it is one of the best curated retail establishments in the world. The shop becomes a window for discovery into all the artisan beauty the world possesses and that they would never find on, say, Fifth Avenue or Avenue Montaigne.” Evan Kwee, the Head of Design and Hospitality at Pontiac Land Group, says: “The idea of collaborating with The Rake and Revolution is to bring real curated taste to the resort shopping experience, but also an underlying sense of ethics in terms of the brands we support. In many hotels, the shop is an afterthought. At Patina, we wanted to create a men’s and women’s shop that is world class and that champions smaller artisans; that offers real style and elegance but also makes people feel good about what they have purchased.”
Conscientious, curated collections Elaborating on the ethos of the men’s boutique, The Rake’s Chief Executive, Alain Gafundi, says: “Through The Rake, we are able to offer some of the most beautiful Italian family-owned heritage brands. But more than that, we are able to show the guests of the Fari Islands and Patina our vision of timeless tropical and resort chic. Many men are very comfortable in a work environment because their suit is their uniform. But when they go on vacation, they can be a bit uncertain of what to wear. “Our sales associates are style advisers and ambassadors for our taste. We love the idea of introducing men to our one-piece collar, handmade tropical print shirt, our deconstructed linen blazers, our tailored shorts and sportswear. Instead of selling flip-flops to men, we prefer to sell them handmade espadrilles. The ethos of The Rake is, ‘small is beautiful’. We love to champion small, family-owned brands with rich histories in tailoring, and we consider it a pleasure to give them a platform to gain a wider audience with Patina customers. The idea is that everything you acquire during your trip is part of a style that you continue to wear when you go home.” Of the women’s collection, Kwee says: “When curating our women’s brands, it was very important for us to express the underlying ethics of our resort. Our power is harvested from the sun. We rescued and planted thousands of trees from neighbouring islands that would otherwise be cleared. Our water is preserved, filtered and recycled, and we have educational programmes about the coral that forms the reefs that sustain us. So, for our women’s brands, we wanted to curate the world’s best collection of female and minority-led brands that are focused on sustainability. Because each time a customer makes a purchase, we believe they are making a declaration of the world they want to live in.” Ismail Rafai, the Head of Retail Operations at The Rake and Revolution, explains: “The idea of a vacation has evolved. Of course, people come to enjoy themselves. But they also come to exercise, to meditate, to feel centred and share their positivity. As such, when they walk into our women’s shops, we want to tell them the stories of the amazing individuals behind each brand who are making incredible, positive change in the world. One example is lemlem, the brand created by the African supermodel Liya Kebede. In Ethiopian, ‘lemlem’ means to flourish or bloom. Her brand uses ethically grown African cotton that is handwoven by artisan groups in Africa to create absolutely beautiful resortwear. She created this brand to empower these communities, allowing them a pathway to a greater livelihood while also exposing their amazing skill to the world.”
Transforming bonds and relationships Gafundi adds: “As part of our commitment to ethics, we also do not believe in the traditional mark-ups that you experience in remote resort destinations like the Maldives. Today the world is far too interconnected, and with one Google search you can immediately see the actual pricing of any object. But more than that, we are not interested in opportunistic retail. Instead, we prefer to make an ethical profit to create goodwill and accrue long-term relationships with each and every customer.” With guests from around the world — from India, the Middle East, Russia, China and Europe — there is one common denominator, and Jean-Claude Biver knows it well. “That commonality is love,” he says. “Everyone comes to the Maldives to make or remake a bond. You come for a wedding or to celebrate an anniversary, to make a proposal or for your honeymoon. You come with your entire family to show them how much you love them.” Revolution’s Chief Executive, Walter Tommasino, says, “We believe there is no better symbol of love than a beautiful watch. This will be something that a man or woman can purchase here, and it will always remind them of the incredible experiences they shared during this dream vacation.” The Revolution Watch and Jewellery Bars As we researched the Maldives, we were surprised to discover that there were few options for luxury watch purchases. So we reached out to some of our favourite brands to become our partners at our Revolution Watch Bars. We have the incredible pleasure of announcing that our first partners will be Blancpain, Bulgari, Chopard and Panerai. Imagine, as a guest, you can purchase a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe or a Panerai Submersible Carbotech, and 10 minutes later you can be scuba diving in crystal-clear water with the watch strapped to your wrist. Bulgari are the creators of my favourite modern icon, the Octo Finissimo, and they also have one of the most coveted jewellery watches in the world, the Serpenti. We love Chopard because of the Happy Sport, which we feel is one of the most joyous and uplifting watches in the world. Because we love artisans, we want to be a platform for educating guests about independent watchmaking, and so we are delighted to announce our partnership with De Bethune, who make the world’s only dive watch with a mechanically powered LED light, the DB28 Grand Sport. From Max Büsser & Friends we have selected two extraordinary dive watches with flying tourbillons. Tommasino adds: “Our shops are not retail driven but education driven. We feel that if our sales associates tell the stories of each of our brand partners well, then customers will make their own decision to invest in them.” Gafundi explains, “This is our new vision for retail, based on our own experiences as customers. It’s true we do not have a background in retail. But we see this as an asset and not a hindrance, because we are not beholden to old ways of doing things. Instead we have applied exactly what we would want as customers at every step of the retail journey.” Rafai affirms the retail approach: “There will never be a hard sell in our shops. We are there simply to educate and entertain you by unveiling the incredible stories of each partner we work with. We are proud to represent them and we feel that you will make up your own mind and take your own decision to commit to them. Instead, we welcome you with a glass of champagne or our house cocktail, the Negroni, and make you feel very much at home.”
Bespoke courier service There is, however, one service that the Revolution Watch Bar provides that is not available anywhere else in the world. Wherever you are on the island, or even the other resorts, if you decide to purchase a watch, all you need to do is select it on the handheld device supplied in every room, enter your location, and we will bring it to you. Yes, that means you can be relaxing by the pool, in your villa, or even enjoying a romantic dinner. If you decide at that moment to transact on that watch or pair of watches, our sales associate will bring it to you within 30 minutes. If it is a watch with a bracelet, we will size this for you at your table, strap it onto your wrist, and the champagne will be on us. My dream with e-commerce is always to be able to press a button and somehow the object I have purchased magically appears in my hand or on my wrist. Now, at Patina Maldives, this can be the reality. “This is the next logical evolution in retail,” Gafundi says. “Already e-commerce has given us the opportunity to shop when we feel like it, not just when stores are open. When do we feel like shopping? When we are at leisure, when we are relaxed, often on the sofa or even in bed.” When are people the most receptive to shopping? When they are on vacation. But they should not be limited to a traditional brick-and-mortar experience. Of course, we invite them to come and be entertained and educated at our shops. But if they go back to their rooms and decide they would like to go to sleep with a new watch on their wrist, we will bring them their watch. So that they can wake up with these beautiful new timepieces. Biver sums it up: “I have always said that in my world there is a king, which is my customer, and a queen, which is my watch. If I do my job correctly, I must bring my queen to wherever the king may be so they may fall in love. This is exactly what Wei and his team have done in the Maldives. I congratulate them on this.”